T.F. South was so close a year ago.
The regional title was right there for the taking, but the Rebels came up a few points short in the final, falling in three nail-biting games to Sandburg.
Crystal Lee and the Rebels weren’t going to let that chance slip away again.
With hitting contributions from all over the court Thursday, T.F. South rolled to a 25-18, 25-21 win over Plainfield South to claim the Class 4A Crete-Monee Regional.
It’s T.F. South’s first volleyball regional title since 2004.
“This game means a lot to us,” Lee said. “You think, ‘Ten years? Big deal.’ But as a senior, this definitely means a lot.”
T.F. South (27-6) will host Plainfield Central on Tuesday in a sectional semifinal.
Lee (10 kills, 15 digs), Briana Lilly (8 kills, 8 blocks), Gabby Mullen (22 assists) and Jenna Pasko (6 kills) led the Rebels.
Plainfield South (13-16) was led by Jordan McNeil (10 service points, 7 digs), Alyssa O’Boyle (18 assists, 6 digs), Alaina Pena (5 kills) and Gabrielle Johnson (5 kills).
“We knew this was going to be a challenge coming in,” T.F. South coach Kim Sands said. “We tried to prepare in practice, and the girls came out really fired up. That made a huge difference.”
It was Lee and Lilly doing double damage in the first game, each stepping up with some huge hits.
Lee was on the attack from all over, smashing kills from the net and the back row. She also was sending floaters over defenders.
Lilly had six kills in Game 1, while Lee had five.
“Not just me, but all the hitters, the hitting and the serving, it gave us the momentum,” Lee said. “It helped set a steady pace and really got us going.”
Lee closed in style, with four big kills late in the second game. With the title in reach, T.F. South faltered a bit with five straight errors as its lead shrank to 24-21, but Pasko was there to close it out, floating a hit over two blockers.
“So close last year and came up a little short,” Pasko said. “We got the win. We’re calling out shots from the back row, so we know where to hit. (It was a) big team effort. With the last point, we had to switch it up and know where to place it.”
Tenth-seeded Plainfield South upset seventh-seed Lincoln-Way Central in the semifinal.
“We didn’t go down with our heads out,” Plainfield South coach Amanda O’Boyle said. “We’re going to make the other team work for those last points every single game we played. I think nerves got the best of us. By the end of the season, this group did become a family.”